Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scientists and campaigners condemn new mobile phone study as misleading and irresponsible

From Vicky Fobel, director of MobileWise:
20 October 2011 – London – A new study published today in the British Medical Journal (embargoed for 11.30 pm tonight) concludes that mobile phone use does not raise the risk of getting a brain tumour. But scientists and campaigners both in the UK and across the globe have dismissed the study as being seriously flawed and offering misleading and false reassurance to the media and public as to the safety of mobile phones.

The study – Use of mobile phones and risk of brain tumours: update of Danish cohort study – looked at data on the whole Danish population aged 30 and over and born in Denmark after 1925 and subdivided this data into subscribers and non-subscribers of mobile phones before 1995. This was done in order to compare the brain tumour rates within these two groups. The apparent conclusion was that there was no comparative increase in brain tumours among mobile phone subscribers.

Despite this apparently simple and clear-cut conclusion, the Danish study is in fact seriously flawed and misleading according to scientists and campaigners in the UK and the US who have examined the data.
Firstly, the study implies that it is looking at long-term users (which is crucial when looking at the incidence of brain tumours, given the latency lag of about 30 years), when in fact the maximum confirmed use period looked at was only seven years and the minimum was as little as one year.

Furthermore the study excludes business users who were by far the heaviest users in Denmark in the 1990’s. This removed those at highest risk of tumours, severely inflating the apparent risk of non-mobile users with whom they were compared. It also included as ‘non-users’ people who started using mobiles after the study began. Together, these methods distorted the findings by greatly diminishing the difference in risk between mobile users and non-users.

Such are the flaws in the study that Denis Henshaw, Emeritus Professor of Human Radiation Effects, University of Bristol has stated that he “considers the claims in the study to be worthless”. He goes on to comment that: “The researchers misclassified the 88 per cent of the Danish population who started using a mobile phone after 1995. This seriously flawed study misleads the public and decision makers about the safety of mobile phone use. ”

Moreover, the researchers themselves have admitted the analysis is flawed. It states in the report that: “A limitation of the study is potential misclassification of exposure. Subscription holders who are not using their phone will erroneously be classified as exposed and people without a subscription but still using a mobile phone will erroneously be classified as unexposed. Because we excluded corporate subscriptions, mobile phone users who do not have a subscription in their own name will have been misclassified as unexposed. Also, as data on mobile phone subscriptions were available only until 1995, individuals with a subscription in 1996 or later were classified as non-users.”

Epidemiologist Dr Devra Davies of the Environmental Health Trust in the US says the study is not new, but an extension of a study published by the Danish team two years ago. It was widely criticised at the time and was not considered by the World Health Organization to be reliable when the WHO reviewed the evidence of mobile phone risks and classified phone radiation as a ‘possible carcinogen’ in May 2011.

Lastly, the study is described in the BMJ press release as the largest study of its kind to date, when in fact it is widely recognised by scientists that a cohort study (as opposed to a case-controlled study) despite being ‘big’ is an inappropriate method for studying relatively rare diseases such as brain tumours. This is because there are usually not enough incidents of the disease within the cohort to draw any valid conclusions.
Vicky Fobel, director of MobileWise, a charity advising on mobile phone and health, says: “This study and the press release promoting its findings are misleading the public by implying that phone use has the all-clear. The study only looked at short-term use of mobile phones and by mis-analysing the data has massively underestimated the risks. All the other studies that have looked at the long-term risks have found a link between phone use and brain tumours. This study gives false reassurance and distracts us from the important job of helping the public, especially children, to cut the risk from mobiles.”

MobileWise is shortly publishing a report highlighting the growing body of evidence that points to a link between mobile phone use and a range of health hazards including brain tumours, infertility and DNA damage, and the implications of this for public health policy. The report, endorsed by scientists working in the radiation field, is due to be released in early November
Notes to editors
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact: Tessa Thomas, MobileWise Communications Director, Tel. 020 8888 3600 Mobile: 07796 942 281 Email: Tessa Thomas
Use of mobile phones and risk of brain tumours: update of Danish cohort study can be downloaded at
MobileWise was set up in 2010 to help children use phones more safely. For more information on MobileWise and the Safe Mobile Code The Safe Mobile Code has been formulated to offer practical solutions for those who want to cut exposure to phone radiation, particularly to the head and groin, which are shown by research to be vulnerable.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Experts at Maine conference say cellphones cause cancer

Experts at Maine conference say cellphones cause cancer

Posted Oct 18, 2011 by JohnThomas Didymus
Empirical evidence connecting cellphone use and cancer has been the subject of a fierce debate in recent years between researchers and operators of the telecommunications industry, including federal regulators.
Photo by Eelke Dekker
The National Cancer Institute, taking a middle ground in the debate, said that "Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly."
But, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, researchers at a conference at the University of Southern Maine on Monday (October 17), have claimed that the connection between cellphones and certain types of cancer is becoming increasingly clear. The researchers have called on governments to take measures to protect people from the cancer risk involved in use of cellphone, smart meters and radio broadcast towers.
Bangor Daily News reports that researchers at the conference said cellphone use today is like smoking decades ago. According to the Bangor Daily News, one of the researchers, Dr. David Carpenter, head of Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany, said:
"There’s enough science to suggest the activity can cause cancer, but not enough political will to implement measures to reduce exposure...We’re setting ourselves up for an epidemic of cancers in the future that should be preventable based on the knowledge we have now."
Dr. David Carpenter says evidence of connection between cancer and cellphone use is increasing in spite of denial by the telecommunications industry:
"If you use a cell phone and hold it to your head, the cancers you see elevated are brain cancer, tumors of the auditory nerve, tumors of the parotid gland, the salivary gland and the cheek right by the ear."
Dr. Carpenter also said that the concern is not only about cellphones. He says there is growing evidence that people who live close to radio towers are at increased risk of cancer:
"If your whole body is exposed, as is the case in people that live near towers — there are studies with AM radio towers in Rome or in Korea — then the cancer that one sees most prominently is leukemia."
Dr. Carpenter says the growing mass of evidence that radio frequency fields expose people to increased risk of cancer explains why the World Health Organization (WHO) recently identified cellphones and radio towers as class 2B carcinogens:
"That's a classification that means the evidence isn't all there but there's reason to be concerned...There have been several other very major advances recently — the study that came from the National Institutes of Health demonstrating directly that a cell phone held to the head, when it was active, it resulted in changes in glucose utilization in the brain. So yes, the evidence is getting strong with time."
Dr. Carpenter's statement was in reference to a recent WHO announcement that radiation from cell phones may possibly cause cancer. Medscape Medical News recently reported that the WHO announcement was based on,
" extensive review of studies on cell phone safety by a working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries, who have been meeting regularly to evaluate the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. They reviewed exposure data, studies of cancer in humans and experimental animal models, and other relevant data."
One of the participants at the Maine conference, Stuart Cobb of Portland, who recently recovered from a type of brain tumor called a glioma, is convinced that his illness was caused by years of daily use of cellphone. According to Cobb:
"I have had one for an awful long time — ever since I was 19 — and I had averaged between 3 to 6 hours per day on it, which is pretty heavy...I am 100 percent convinced it was from RF radiation. As humans we just weren't meant to have transmitters bolted to our heads for long periods of time."
Medscape Medical News reports that one of the strongest evidence supporting Cobb's conviction that there may be link between brain tumors and cellphone use comes from a series of studies at the Department of Oncology, Orebo Medical Center in Sweden. The studies showed that the risk of brain tumors increases with number of hours of use and that younger users suffer a greater risk. Other studies have, however, given results inconsistent with the results of the Swedish study, leading some authorities to conclude that "additional research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn."
Medscape Medical News reports another line of research evidence that cellphone use may cause cancer: Researchers have shown that use of cellphone "for as little as 50 minutes at a time appears to affect brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the phone's antenna."
According to Medscape Medical News:
"Investigators used positron emission tomography (PET) during cell phone use in the on and then off positions and found that although whole-brain metabolism was not affected, metabolism was increased in the orbitofrontal cortex and the temporal pole areas of the brain while the cell phone was on, areas that are close to where phone's antenna meets the head."
The author of the study Nora D. Volkow, of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland, said,
"We do not know what the clinical significance of this finding is, both with respect to potential therapeutic effect of this type of technology but also potential negative consequences from cell phone exposure."
But she strongly recommends "in the interim" hands-free devices or speaker-phone mode to avoid direct contact of the telephone with the head. According to Volkow,
"Previous work suggests that if the phone is a foot or more away it is very unlikely to have any effects...So there are some very easy solutions that don't cost anything for those who want to play it safe."

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Study: Most Cell Users Exposed To Alarming Radiation Levels

Questions Of Long-Term Side Affects Raised

POSTED: 9:52 am EDT October 17, 2011
UPDATED: 6:38 pm EDT October 17, 2011
A new report suggests that 97 percent of Americans are exposed to cell phone radiation levels well above the Federal Communications Commission limit.
The FCC underestimates the amount of radiation that people who carry cell phones are exposed to, according to the a study published in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine.
"The standard for cell phones has been developed based on old science and old models and old assumptions about how we use cell phones and that's why they need to change," said Devra Lee Davis of the Environmental Health Trust.
Because the existing process uses a mannequin model that represents 3 percent of the population, the authors report that 97 percent of the population, especially children, will exceed the certified level of absorbed radiation when they hold a cell phone up to their ear.
The authors suggest an alternative certification process -- one that uses MRI scans to test real humans.
The authors also raise questions of long-term side effects, like infertility in males who carry phones in their pockets, an exposure unaccounted for in the traditional certification process.
Independent scientists told ABC News there are no conclusive studies that cell phone radiation causes cancer.
"There are different types. The radiation from x-rays is ionizing radiation. The kind from cell phones is the same from microwave ovens. There is no good proof that that caused cancer," said ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Richard Besser.
The group is calling for a revision of the process, especially in children, who have smaller heads than the traditional male adult mannequin model.

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